The San Marcos High girls water polo team was hoping to make a royal statement Saturday at the Tournament of Champions.
A win over Newport Beach in the morning would send the Royals to the title match of the invitational against Laguna Beach, a team they have lost to twice already this season, in the evening.
San Marcos put itself in a good position early and held a three-goal lead with a bit over four minutes remaining in the final period.
Unfortunately, the Royals could not hold on as the Sailors battled back from that deficit to send the game into overtime and won the contest in double overtime, 9-8, on a goal from sophomore Megan Netherton.
“We beat ourselves today. That was a hard one to lose, probably one of the hardest I had in my time here,” San Marcos coach Brian “Chuckie” Roth said.
“All the credit in the world goes to them, but we did a few things that impacted the outcome of the game negatively.”
A huge turning point in the game came when Cassidy Miller, who tallied a hat trick and scored what would be the Royals (14-5) final game, was ejected from the contest in the fourth after picking up her third foul.
“She is one of our better players and her and Hannah Meyer don’t communicate on a simple switch, she picks up a foul and that really changes the game for us,” Roth said.
Up 8-5 with 4:13 remaining, the Sailors got their first score from Avery Montiel who got free from her defender.
On the next trip down, Newport struck again as they dumped the ball inside to Taylor Smith who overpowered the Royals Ava Stryker to score and bring her team back within one.
At 8-7, San Marcos defense hunkered down and every time Newport tried to dump the ball inside, it swarmed to either get a steal or just force a bad pass.
The Royals were in the perfect position to earn a victory as they held the ball with 43 seconds left.
Running the clock down to zero, all San Marcos had to do was throw the ball into the opponent’s corner and it would have been difficult for them to try to get a decent shot off.
Instead, when the Royals passed it to senior Claire Kronen, she misjudged the ball, which was not a great pass to begin with, and instead of shooting, Newport’s Emily Cantu was able to quickly pick it up and pass it up ahead to Netherton who easily put one behind the net with nine seconds remaining.
“In tough game situations like that sometimes we tend to get really flustered. And we just need to like kind of take a step back, take a deep breath and just do what we usually do,” Kronen said.
With the nine seconds remaining, the Royals were not able to find anything and had to go to overtime for the second day in a row.
Once in overtime, San Marcos had opportunities with Megan Musick coming free on a powerplay opportunity, but the senior rushed the shot leading to a miss.
Senior Hannah Meyer also had a good look, but goalkeeper Anna Reed made a great play on the ball and just got a hand on it to keep Newport in the game.
In the second overtime, again the Royals had a powerplay opportunity but failed to convert.
“We have a 6-on-5 in the first OT and it doesn’t go well and then we have another 6-on-5 in the second OT and again we can’t capitalize so we beat ourselves today and we have to learn from those things and do a lot of things better,” Roth said.
On what would be the final play of the game, the Sailors had a powerplay opportunity but did not score the first time out.
Instead, on the rebound, again Newport drew a foul leading to a 6-on-4 situation where Netherton was easily able to find the back of the net and give her team the win.
“We have had a lot of games where we have been in those overtime situations and one girl just needs to step up and make that play and today we didn’t have that,” Kronen said.
With the loss, the Royals were relegated to the third-place game where they faced off against a familiar opponent in Foothill.
The two teams split their two meetings earlier this year, but on Saturday it was Foothill that got the upper hand, defeating San Marcos 12-4 to claim third place.
Ella Prentice, Meyer, Kronen and Stryker scored the goals and Amberger made nine saves in that loss.
“In some ways, it is probably good for my group, we made a lot of errors and we have to be reflective. It is the little stuff in this level that leads to the big outcome and I think I need to be a better coach and my team needs to focus on the little things a bit better,” Roth said.
Santa Barbara splits final two games at TOC
Abigail Hendrix and Juju Martinez do amaral each tallied a hat trick against Long Beach Wilson for Santa Barbara on Saturday, leading the team to a 7-4 victory.
The other goal scored was by Makenna Wright. Senior goalkeeper Faith Tedesco had 14 saves and also tallied an assist in the victory.
In later action, Santa Barbara faced off against Oaks Christian for the second time in as many weeks and came up short in overtime, losing 8-7.
Due to illnesses and foul trouble, the Dons were short three starters in the overtime period.
Martinez do Amaral had four goals and an assist in the loss while Olivia Obando had a goal, an assist, and earned three ejections.
Sophie Johnson had two assists and two steals while Tedesco was again big in goal for the Dons coming up with 15 saves.
With its pool out of commission, Santa Barbara (8-11) will play what should have been a home game against Santa Ynez at Dos Pueblos High on Tuesday.